Standards update

Standards Australia

By Simona Tomevska, Stakeholder Engagement Manager, Energy and Electrotechnology*
Thursday, 03 May, 2018

Standards update

As the standards development process rolls on and the latest project prioritisation draws to a close, previous rounds are being finalised and committees will soon be established to get projects underway. But as Standards Australia continues pursuing core business in developing standards, there are also some broader projects underway, including a recent agreement reached with Energy Networks Australia.

New projects

One of the recent successful proposals from the energy, communications and data field of work relates to a series of standards on explosive atmospheres. This standard is electrotechnical in nature and deals with design, installation and operation of pressurised and artificially ventilated rooms used in potentially explosive atmospheres.

Whilst the safety aspect is effectively aimed at the potential for gas or vapour to be undetected and ignite, those impacted will likely be employed in the energy and electrotechnical sector. This explains the focus of this sector on delivering a standard to help improve safety of all its workers.

The standard is proposed to be AS NZS 60079.13, Explosive atmospheres – Part 12 Equipment protection by pressurised room “p” and artificially ventilated room “v”. The standard is also part of a series (AS/NZS 60079) which covers essential safety requirements for explosive atmospheres. The standard provides guidance to help prevent explosions and fires where there is a risk of the potential presence of a flammable gas or vapour.

This particular standard is an essential document in the series to deal with certain protection aspects when other parts of the series cannot be used. As such, it forms an important link to safety and expands the coverage of the 60079 series to a broader range of applications.

Showing the significance of this particular standard, it is intended for use in industrial facilities across Australia and New Zealand. The facilities are from several industries including manufacturing, petrochemical, grain, and offshore oil and gas.

The standard has only recently been approved and there is much work to do, but safety improvements, such as those planned for this standard, are always an ideal outcome to work towards.

Partnership with Energy Networks Australia

The energy and electrotechnology industry is evolving at a rapid pace with the application of digital technology to traditional infrastructure. This is changing business models and physical infrastructure requirements, and presenting new security challenges for operators, Australian businesses and consumers.

Particularly in recent years, the electricity grid has been changing from its traditional centralised structure to one where the grid is decentralised and includes ‘prosumers’. Prosumers are consumers of electricity who also produce energy; common examples include owners of solar panels who then sell the excess energy back into the grid.

As the ways which consumers use energy networks change, cybersecurity vulnerabilities of these networks are also changing. As such, Standards Australia is working with Energy Networks Australia to focus on the role of standards in increasing cybersecurity to the changing energy network. This will take the form of a Grid Cyber Security Standards Roadmap Report.

This report will include:

  • A collection of broad perspectives on existing Australian grid cybersecurity standards;
  • A recommendation for Australian participation in any relevant international standards committees;
  • A recommendation for the development of new or the adoption of relevant international standards to support grid cybersecurity in Australia; and
  • An explanation of the standards development pathway and the process used by Standards Australia to develop standards, including a prospective timeline.

While the government sets Australia’s legislative and regulatory framework, Australian and international standards play a crucial role in supporting the broader institutional architecture. Standards enable and support Australian industry to engage with, and benefit from, the digital economy.

The agreement is in its early stages but significant progress is expected in coming months, with a number of roundtables and forums with interested stakeholders planned. As progress is made, Standards Australia will be advising the broader community of outcomes and what it means for every Australian.

Spreading the word

Members of the stakeholder engagement team travelled to major cities across every state and territory in Australia over the past two months. The purpose was to engage with people familiar with Standards Australia’s processes, as well as those less aware of what we do and how we do it.

Specifically for the energy and electrotechnology sector, there are currently 59 committees and 80 active projects. The sector sees Standards Australia staff interact with energy regulators, representatives of federal and state governments, energy councils, Australian Industry Group, Engineers Australia, Master Electricians Australia and many more stakeholders.

The work of Standards Australia reaches a number of different aspects of several sectors — all of which remain an equal focus of the organisation and will see significant progress this year as work well and truly gets underway.

*Simona Tomevska has been with Standards Australia for over two years. She started as a Project Manager involved in standards development and then shifted to the role of Stakeholder Engagement Manager for the Energy and Electrotechnology sector. Standards Australia is a non-government, not-for-profit standards organisation and, despite being in its 96th year, shows no sign of slowing down. Clear evidence of this is in the electrical sector, with some standards having been around for years (such as the Wiring Rules) and others the result of exciting new projects in areas such as distributed electricity and battery storage.

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